I was born in Seattle, and knew from a young age that I lived in Washington. In the manner of all young people I knew very little outside my immediate surroundings, so I didn't always understand that there was another Washington out there. And why would I? My Washington produced planes and apples and software; the other Washington just ran the country, and how hard can that be? It can't be as hard as they make it.
Anyway, I have been thinking recently of how I learned about The Other Washington, because it's tied to some of my earliest memories.
There was this burger chain in the Northwest called Herfy's, which now no longer exists. (Long Google-researched digression: Except it does again, but the new Herfy's restaurants aren't related at all to the old chain, they just use the old name and logo, and apparently also have good burgers. Herfy's is not to be confused with Herfy, the name of a Saudi Arabian fast food chain. Who knew?) Herfy's used to have Happy Meal-like kids' meals called Wacky Burger Boxes, which (props to Google again) predated actual Happy Meals, although both existed when I was a sprout. I remember that one of the Wacky Burger Boxes had an elaborate cartoon about our Washington and "the other Washington" with a lot of "Washington slept here" type of jokes that I didn't sufficiently appreciate at a tender age. As I dimly recall, the cartoon ironically (I now realize) cast our Washington as the real, famous Washington, and the one on the Potomac as just this place that happens to have the same name, but none of the real Washington's charms.
Yeah, I know the payoff on that one wasn't worth it. Sorry.
Another long digression, in case you thought I was The Good Child: When I was about four, around Christmastime, I expected one day that my parents would take me to see Santa at the Aurora Village Frederick & Nelson and then take me to dinner at Herfy's. (There are three, count 'em, THREE northwestern institutions in that sentence that no longer exist, at least in their previous form!) But for some reason we didn't go, maybe because I had just made up that we were going and they hadn't actually said we would. I still do that. So I pitched a fit and lay on my bed sobbing and screaming "I WANT TO GO SEE SANTA AND GO TO HERFY'S!" for a few hours. Then I finally got over it and meekly emerged and ate my ordinary, boring, home-cooked meal. Chicken, I think.
Imagine how much more miserable I'd been if I'd known about Frangos then!
Eventually I grew to realize that if I told anyone who wasn't from the Northwest that I was from Washington, they would think I meant Washington, DC. Now I just say I'm from Seattle, except technically I grew up outside the city line and only ventured Into the City (reminds me, Istanbul is from the Greek for "into the city," eis ten polin) on special occasions, field trips and such, because it was, and remains, rather a pain in the neck to drive from Shoreline and park downtown. But college and onward I lived in Seattle, until I moved to Virginia. And now I say I'm from Seattle, because naturally if I say I'm from Washington, people will think I'm from the other Washington...I mean, the other other Washington, the one that runs the country. And I know enough people who live there now that I think maybe it is that hard to run the country, or even if it's not, maybe it's good that so many people go there to do it anyway.
5 weeks ago